Toying with the idea of non-reception

non-reception-air

Over and over again, the most bitter of all hotel experiences is the moment of arrival. When everything should suggest opening the doors of imagination and hospitality, we usually see something like a wall barring the way to happiness: the reception desk, the final frontier. No way to find the way! The Iron Curtain falls. So, “what can I do?”, wonders any innovative hotelier; perhaps it is the most convenient way to welcome the customers; maybe it is the most useful method to take their ID; surely it is the most practicable place from which to control visitors. Others, owners of small charming hotels, claim that furniture like this helps the communication with the newcomer, and no digital check-in could replace the warmth of human contact. Continue reading

Goodbye to the reception desk

bell concierge blueI arrived very late at night. From the outside the hotel looked closed, inhospitable. The lights were off. The night shift employee was lying on a couch. I opened the sliding glass doors, and glanced over to see a monolithic figure of a uniformed person behind a dark service desk. The person didn’t look up. He just gestured in the comfort of his usual position. If anything, he only gave me formal greeting as I approached him, carrying my bags. His eyes were hidden behind thick lenses, inscrutable in the gloom. His breathing, even thicker than his glasses, evidenced the nocturnal condition. He accomplished his work with merit from the first moment, when he asked for my passport, the three mandatory signatures and a credit card… «As a guarantee that you will not leave without paying,» he added, with the courtesy he learned at the hospitality school. That was the receptionist.

That was last week. But it could have happened any night last month, last year, or at the end of the millennium. Or at any other time in my childhood when the kindness of the agent was complimented with a «May God be with you for many years.» The reception has always been the sanctum sanctorum of the bureaucracy in the hotel industry. That strange job where, instead of welcoming guests and helping to relieve them from the inconvenience of traveling, they are hindered with the regular processing of their registration and assurance of their purchasing power. An instant hold in that travel momentum, the memory of which always reminds me of a teller window of the treasury or the lottery office, without the urgency of the first or the exciting disorder of the second. Continue reading

A Six Million Dollar Cocktail

Jigger Cocktail Bar opened in Bilbao, Spain

Mixology is a great opportunity to transform your hotel bar service in new liturgies. With this tweet, I celebrated the arrival of an exceptional bartender, Diego Cabrera, to the digital “joint” of the Ruina Habitada (my Inhabited Ruin in Spain). I’ve never been in his bar, in order not to commit the sacrilege of ordering my favorite drink after wine and beer. A gin and tonic, please! But I’ve joined up with him at some Madrid balls, especially the one he encouraged me to hold more than three years ago along with other well-known bartenders to debate on the bar’s space in hotels. Rethinking the bar was the name of the gathering sponsored by the French Champagne brand Mumm. Besides Cabrera, the event was attended by Carlos Moreno, Javier Rufo, Óscar Durán, Francesco Cavagionni, DJ Johan Walt and interior designer Lorenzo Castillo. The conclusion of that group reflection could be nothing other than what was expressed Continue reading